According to the NCDAS, 1 in 10 Americans above 12 years old have a type of alcohol use disorder. This percentage is compounded in communities stricken by mental illness, poverty, and other socio-economic factors.

Alcohol addiction intervention can be life-changing in a loved one’s life. Here we address the process in detail.

What Is an Addiction Intervention?

Alcohol addiction intervention is a procedure that involves therapy, consultancy, and, sometimes, medications to aid a person struggling with alcohol addiction to overcome their struggle.

This procedure is often used with individuals who suffer from alcohol use disorder (AUD) and are unable to stop on their own. While many alcohol addiction cases can be handled without professional intervention, several other cases fail to resolve. That’s when intervention can help.

The goal of the intervention is to make the person trying to kick addiction recognize, fight through, and overcome their strong affinity toward alcohol.

Sometimes, the struggling person fails to recognize the scale of the existing problem, giving responses like ‘I can stop at any time.’

The first step is helping them recognize the size of the problem and the limitations they might face as they try to recover.

Related: How to confront someone with an alcohol addiction, the right way

What Is the Right Time for Alcohol Addiction Intervention?

The right time to start alcohol intervention is when advice and guidance fail to help the struggling person recognize and deal with their AUD.

In many cases, advice and familial guidance can be enough of a wake-up call to alert the person to their existing problem so they go out and seek treatment.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. That’s when the brief intervention window opens. The earlier it is, the easier it’ll become to get over the alcohol trigger.

Signs That an Alcohol Addiction Intervention Is Necessary

Here are the signs that someone needs intervention:

Loss of Control

The struggling person will often find they drink, and even abuse alcohol, much more than intended, being unable to stop once started. This may also be reflected in increasing drinking amounts over time.

Compulsive Drinking

Feeling the nagging ‘need’ to drink alcohol to function normally is another sign that alcohol addiction is spiraling out of control.

The struggling person will, more often than not, have constant cravings, which may cause prioritizing drinking over other activities and responsibilities.

Hiding or Lying About Drinking

Once the struggling person attempts to hide the fact that they’re drinking excessively, that’s your cue that quitting has become a lot harder.

The struggling person may also lie about not drinking as much.

Risky Behaviors While Drinking

Another red flag for substance abuse is doing activities that people in their right mind avoid when they drink, like driving or operating heavy/complicated machinery.

When a person starts performing these tasks repeatedly while under the influence, then they’re no longer aware of the extent of the problem.

Relationship Issues

Constant drinking can lead to relationship problems, breaking newly formed ones and threatening already existing ones.

Neglecting loved ones, withdrawing from social activities, or having multiple conflicts with people over seemingly trivial arguments are all signs that the person needs help.

Unfortunately, until the person addresses their struggle with addiction, marital and family counseling or other forms of family therapy could be less effective than if they were sober.

Problems at Work or School

People who struggle with alcohol often perform worse at work or school. They may also start unnecessary conflicts, exhibit disciplinary issues, or skip more work days than allowed.

Having more than one of these signs present at once is a clear indication that alcohol addiction intervention is required.

How Does Alcohol Addiction Intervention Work?

Alcohol addiction intervention works by making a dedicated plan to address the alcohol abuse problem. Then they can form a team of professionals, friends, and/or family members to apply the steps of this plan.

The following steps are usually undertaken when staging an intervention:

Making a Plan

Once a family member(s) decides that it’s time to get help, they should form planning or support groups, which can consist of other family members, counselors, psychologists, and social workers.

The professionals in the group will help the family members form a framework of the steps that should be taken. Meanwhile, based on their knowledge of their loved one, the family members will help the professionals find the best approach to help the struggling person.

Gathering Information

The plan can’t be applied unless enough information is gathered about the target. For example, it’s essential to know what caused the alcohol problem to start.

Unless the cause of the problem is resolved or addressed, most efforts will likely fall short.

Staging the Intervention

The next step is to bring the struggling person to the intervention meeting. Sometimes, it’s better not to let them know about the purpose of the meeting until they get there. However, in other cases, it’s better to let them know beforehand to avoid anger spurts, especially if they get physical.

The professionals in the group usually decide which approach to take based on the personality traits they understand from talking to the family during early meetings.

Expecting and Preparing for Different Reactions

The professional members of the team will be in charge of formulating the majority of the intervening approaches, like keeping an eye on your loved one to talk them out of drinking when they’re about to or taking away triggers that can make them relapse.

However, family members should be ready to react when the loved one refuses the treatment at one point. While the struggling person may have initially accepted the treatment, the constant need to drink can make them irrational at times.

Family members should have enough patience for such occasions. They need to be mentally prepared so that hurtful words and unpleasant responses can occur.

As such, they must dismiss and not take such responses personally, as getting back at a struggling person can worsen the situation.

What to Do if the Loved One Refuses the Intervention?

When the struggling person suffers too much from withdrawal symptoms, they may think that they have had enough and that they no longer want to continue the treatment.

Containing and accepting your loved one at this point is crucial. All family members should refrain from any actions that could provoke the struggling person.

They should also do what they can to calm them down and limit their access to alcohol to prevent a relapse or a potential alcohol overdose, at least until they calm down again.

If they insist on going back to alcohol even after they calm down, then family members should take some previously agreed-upon measures that they had while planning.

These actions are highly variable based on the personal attributes of the recovering person, and are decided by the team professionals. They can include:

  • Preventing the struggling person from accessing their car.
  • Stopping or minimizing access to cash.
  • Revoking visitation rights with children.
  • Asking them to move out until they’re ready to continue therapy.

Hospitalization and Medications

Hospitalization and medical therapy can be suitable if reasoning, planning, and non-medical intervention aren’t working.

The struggling person is usually admitted to a hospital or treatment center that specializes in handling alcohol abuse cases. There, they’re supervised and monitored for a number of days while being provided with enough stimulants and activities to keep their mind occupied.

In many cases, medications are used to make alcohol less desirable. One of the most common medications used for such cases is naltrexone.

Naltrexone is a non-addictive opioid antagonist that binds to the opioid receptors that act as the “pleasure” centers in the brain.

By binding to these receptors, naltrexone prevents alcohol from achieving the desired effect, which takes the pleasure out of drinking, making it less desirable for the struggling person, lessening potential alcohol abuse.

Naltrexone can be used whether the patient is hospitalized or not, rendering it a helpful option to try before admitting the loved one to a treatment program. However, in both cases, it shouldn’t be used without supervision from a health care professional.

To Wrap Up

Alcohol addiction can be a complicated process to deal with without professional aid. The insecurity associated with these cases, paired with the withdrawal symptoms, can make the struggling person refuse help and in-patient therapy.

That’s when telehealth services can be the right move. They provide you with most services you can acquire from a clinic or a hospital through your computer or phone from the comfort of your home.

If you know someone who’s struggling with alcohol, have them book an appointment with Curednation, a safe space for recovery where privacy and quality are of top priority.

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